Washougal, WA – Volunteers at the Two Rivers Heritage Museum are excited to open their doors for visitors on Saturdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting April 3 after their sudden shut down last March due to the pandemic.
“We can’t wait to welcome guests and our membership back to the museum,” said Jim Cobb, Camas Washougal Historical Society President. “All volunteer docents will have full vaccine protection and we will of course be following all COVID 19 safety protocols including masks, social distancing and cleaning.”
The museum’s reception area and is now home to the “Gorge” display, created in 2019 by Discovery High School students. This 9×4 foot scale model presenting 90 miles of the Columbia River Gorge with landmarks that light up, is now more accessible with better viewing opportunities. The room also received a new coat of paint and the museum gift store has been reorganized and has a fresh new look.
“Spring of 2020 we were all ready to open with fresh paint and new displays created during our regular winter closure,” said Karen Johnson, display committee member. “We made significant changes in both the Museum main building and the Carriage House.”
Museum interior work was made possible by volunteer Walt Eby, who worked out a plan for rearranging the spaces and made sure all the pieces would come together in a cohesive design. “There was a lot of measuring, right down to tape strips on the floor where cabinets would be placed,” said Johnson. Big Al’s Movers was hired to help move the large display pieces into place.
The four-year-old “School Days” exhibit in the rotating display room was taken apart with some artifacts sent back to storage while others were moved to displays in other parts of the museum.
“That room has now been turned into an impressive Native American exhibit with woven baskets and stone bowls and tools,” Johnson said.
The Carriage House, built in 2009, was also transformed with new displays to make the area more interesting for visitors. A vintage buggy was moved from the floor to a high ledge which provides much better viewing and made room for more items.
A new display in the Carriage House, “All Boxed Up,” is located on the corner ledge over the doorway. It features vintage folding wooden grocery boxes branded with names of local stores. The addition of large banner pictures of local markets from the past adds a special touch and informative signage helps to tell the story.
A collection of surveying and mineral artifacts can be found in another new Carriage House display, “From Here to There.”
“It describes how the survey tools and the Donation Land Act of 1851 are related to the history of our community,” Johnson said.
Another new display focuses on mining in the area and is called “Relics from the Last Chance Mine.”
Display Committee volunteer members are Karen Johnson, Richard Johnson, Walt Eby, Gayle Godtlibsen, and Ivar Godtlibsen.
Visitors will also be impressed by the progress of the Native American-inspired Gathering Place at Washuxwal longhouse pavilion that sits on the museum’s southern side. The four-year construction project is now in its final stages of completion.
The pavilion’s design is based on the traditional cedar plank houses used by Native American tribes who lived in what is now East Clark County in the early 19th century.
“We are looking forward to telling stories of the area’s earliest inhabitants and to use the space for cultural and community events and field trips,” said Cobb.
The Two Rivers Heritage Museum is located at 1 Durgan Street in Washougal and is currently only open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission costs are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for students and free for children under 5 and all CWHS members. Group tours are available any day of the week (by appointment only). Call 360-835-5449 for scheduling.
“Our community has so much to be proud of in this museum,” said Cobb. “We hope local folks who have not had a chance to see the museum will stop in and look around at all we have to offer.”
CWHS is always looking for volunteers and new members to join and help support the preservation of local history. More information about the CWHS and the Two Rivers Heritage Museum can be found on their website at www.2rhm.com.